TC Horror Fest Review: Mortem Capiendum

"A tonic with seemingly miraculous properties;
Three con-men beginning to believe their own pitch;
And a perfectly ordinary trunk containing...?
A traveling medicine show from Four Humors."

Four Humors bring the comedy in a show starring Matt Spring as a traveling snake oil salesman, Brant Miller as his affable sidekick, and Jason Ballweber as their audience plant.

A Great Depression-era traveling medicine show sets up shop in Minneapolis, where Professor Saint Miracle (Spring) and his companion Eustis (Miller) demonstrate the wonders of their various elixirs, serums and tonics. In the show's setup, the Four Humors ensemble takes shot after searing shot at the flimflam tradition that informed not only the medicine shows of old, but much of our modern consumer culture; from televangelism and megachurches to infomercials, pyramid schemes and real estate seminars.

There is a level of social commentary in this play that we don't often notice in the kind of high energy comedy for which Four Humors is best known, and they deliver it just unsubtly enough that you won't miss it, yet you're not beaten over the head by it either.

The heart of the play is in its humor, though, and through humor it poses tough questions for the band of three hapless con artists to address: What would you give up to see your greatest dream come true? What's too big a sacrifice? If you could cheat death, would you?

All of which makes this show sound more serious than it is. To be clear, this is a comedy. It's the story of a pair of dustbowl-era huckster philosophers unwittingly learning how to raise the dead. If Abbott & Costello had met the Grim Reaper, this is that story.

It's that story along with a Diabolous ex Machina and a few cruel twists along the way, and an immersive, satirical farce. Spring, Miller and Bellweber do what they do best, which is lay down rapidfire gags in thick layers, utilizing a smart a script co-written with fellow Four Humors member Nick Ryan and the company's trademark slapstick antics. This is Four Humors at the top of their game.

Mortem Capiendum continues at the Southern Theater, 1420 S Washington Ave, MPLS, as part of the Fourth Annual Twin Cities Forror Fest.

Purchase tickets online. ($14-15)

Sat, Oct. 24 @ 2:30pm
Sun, Oct. 25 @ 10pm
Thu, Oct. 29 @ 7pm
Sat, Oct. 31 @ 8:30pm